Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, is located within the corporate city limits of its namesake, Altus. The base is 1,376 feet above sea level; approximately 3,500 acres in size; and has approximately 3,500 military members and 550 civilians assigned. On average, about 300-400 students are in training at any one time.
The base was established on 17 June 1942 and designated as Altus Army Air Field on 8 April 1943. It served as an advanced flying school during World War II until its inactivation on 15 May 1945. This World War II era base was reactivated by the Air Force on 8 January 1953 as a Tactical Air Command facility.
Altus AFB was established by the War Department during World War II on 17 June 1942. Designated as Altus Army Air Field, it served as an advanced flying school and graduated almost 5,400 pilots who learned advanced techniques while flying AT-9s, AT-17s and UC-78s.
The airfield was inactivated by the Army in 1945 when the war ended. In September 1948, the War Assets Administration Office in Dallas, Texas, deeded the installation to the city of Altus for one dollar and it became the Altus Municipal Airport. Since the city of Altus could only use a small number of the facilities on the installation, most of the structures fell into disrepair and many of the smaller buildings were sold to the public.
When the Korean war began, Tactical Air Command (TAC) was looking to expand its forces. Partially due to strong involvement of some prominent community leaders, Altus AFB was reactivated in January 1953 with the 63 Troop Carrier Wing, Heavy, as host.
Strategic Air Command (SAC) activated the 96 Bombardment Wing, Medium, at Altus AFB in November 1953; on June 21, 1954, SAC assumed full control of the base to host bombers and support aircraft. SAC flew B-47s and KC-97s at Altus until 1958 when they were replaced by B-52s and KC-135s. In late 1959, Hound Dog and Quail missiles were installed on B-52s assigned to Altus.
SAC also had 12 Atlas missile sites in the area which were inactivated in 1965. Near the end of January 1960, Senator Kerr, Senator Monroney, and Representative Toby Morris made the first public announcement regarding the installation of an Atlas F missile facility at Altus. In April, the Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District awarded the basic construction contract to Morrison-Knudsen and Hardeman and Associates. The two firms had submitted a combined bid of just over $20.9 million.
The 12 launcher locations were at or near Lonewolf; Hobart (2); Snyder; Cache; Mantiou; Frederick; Creta; Hollis; Russell; Willow; and Fargo, Texas. To acquire the needed 12,879 acres, in October, the Real Estate Division of the Tulsa District filed condemnation suits against 477 landowners in the 6 counties surrounding Altus. As at other Atlas construction sites, Tulsa District Engineers were befuddled with the concurrency problem where improvements in the missile required constant modifications to the ongoing launcher construction. However, the Tulsa District managed to keep the project on schedule by using a "Red Ball" system that prioritized Atlas paperwork. Problems elsewhere forced the Army to centralize construction management. Therefore in November 1960, the responsibility of construction was transferred to the newly formed Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO). Consequently, approximately 175 Tulsa District employees found themselves working for the Los Angeles-based organization.
There were several "growing pains" associated with this project. Coordination between the Corps of Engineers, contractor, Site Activation Task Force (SATAF), and integrating consultants from Convair Astronautics (later General Dynamics Astronautics) was difficult at times. The Corps blamed the integrating consultants for lacking experience in heavy construction. Natural difficulties were encountered as some sites had water tables that were higher than expected and at one site workers dug into underground cavities. Labor-management relations were harmonious. Only eight short work stoppages occurred, causing minimal delays. There were three project-related fatalities. In addition, two major on-site fires set back construction. As with other first generation missile projects, the installation and testing of the propellant loading system proved difficult as contaminants hindered the system's operation.
In August 1962, the first Atlas F was placed on alert status. In October, all 12 missiles were put on alert status as a result of the Cuban missile crisis. On May 14, 1964, during a propellant loading exercise, an explosion caused the destruction of launch complex 577-6. Two days later, Defense Secretary McNamara ordered the accelerated phaseout of Atlas and Titan I ICBMs. As a result, the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron was deactivated on March 25, 1965.
In May 1967, the Air Force announced that Altus had been selected as the site for the Military Airlift Command's (MAC) Airlift Training Center, and MAC assumed operational control of the base in July 1968. The KC-135s continued their air refueling mission at the base through tenant units. The 443d Military Airlift Wing, Training, moved to Altus from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma in 1969. The wing's mission was to train C-141 and C-5 aircrew members for the Air Force. This new mission created a large construction program to accommodate the training unit. The first class of C-141 pilots entered ground school training at Altus on 24 March 1969. Flying started on 5 May 1969, and the first group of C-141 student pilots graduated on 24 May 1969.
During this period, the Air Force expanded the base's facilities to accommodate Lockheed's new C-5 Galaxy. The first C-5A was delivered to Altus AFB on 17 December 1969, and the first C-5B arrived on 8 January 1986. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Altus served as the schoolhouse for MAC's strategic airlift crews, offering courses that included aircraft commander qualification, pilot air refueling qualification, navigator airdrop qualification, and loadmaster airdrop qualification.
In the early 1990s, the Air Force replaced MAC, TAC, and SAC with the newly created Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Air Combat Command (ACC). It also replaced the Air Training Command and Air University with Air Education and Training Command (AETC). These changes altered the command structure at Altus AFB. Both the 443 Military Airlift Wing, a MAC unit, and the 340 Air Refueling Wing, a SAC tenant unit, began reporting to AMC.
On 27 August 1991, the 443d Military Airlift Wing was redesignated as an airlift wing. Less than a year later, on 1 June 1992, HQ USAF directed the inactivation of the 443d Airlift Wing and the 340th Air Refueling Wing. Placed at Altus as the host unit was the 97th Air Mobility Wing which Air Mobility Command (AMC) activated on 1 October 1992. The newly created 97 Air Mobility Wing (AMW), which was transferred to AETC, and the 97 AMW transferred ownership of its KC-135s to an AMC unit at Robins AFB, Georgia. During this same period, the 97 AMW received the KC-135 Combat Training School from Castle AFB, California, and the move to Altus AFB was completed in March 1995.
Less than one year later, on 1 July 1993, HQ USAF transferred the 97th Air Mobility Wing from Air Mobility Command to Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and its Nineteenth Air Force. As a result of the change, the operational KC-135 assets at Altus were reassigned to Air Mobility Command's 19th Air Refueling Wing at Robins AFB, Georgia. On 20 January 1994, HQ AETC inactivated the wing's 330th Flying Training Squadron at Castle AFB and activated the 97th Training Squadron at Altus. This was the first move in the overall transfer of the KC-135 training from Castle to Altus. On 28 October 1994, HQ AETC inactivated the 93d Air Refueling Squadron at Castle and activated the 55th Air Refueling Squadron at Altus. The 55th assumed responsibility for training active duty, guard, and reserve KC-135 aircrew members.
Meanwhile, in June 1994, it was announced that Altus AFB would be home to the new C-17 and its training facilities. The first C-17 arrived on March 23, 1996.
Altus AFB and the city of Altus, together comprise about 80% of Jackson County's 1990 census population of 28,764 people. Altus AFB supports 2,048 permanent military personnel; there were 417 students in the AETC training program for FY 98. Furthermore, 3,053 military personnel and their families live on base and another 2,396 military personnel and their families live off base. The surrounding community has 1,275 military retirees who depend on base facilities. The base provides direct employment for 2,550 civilian personnel. Altus AFB payroll and expenditures totaled more than $191 million. The base owns more than $4.0 billion in weapons systems and $398 million in capital assets. Equipment totals $78 million. The base-controlled resources were valued at just over $4.5 billion at the end of FY 98. In addition, Altus AFB construction projects and other contracts for services, materials and equipment for FY 98 totaled $51.3 million.
The city of Altus, with a population of 23,000 residents is located approximately 140 miles southwest of Oklahoma City and about 10 miles north of the Oklahoma-Texas border. Altus is the county seat of Jackson County and is easily accessible from the north and south by US Highway 283 and from the east and west by US Highway 62. Altus AFB is located within Altus' city limits on the northeast side of the City. The base consists of approximately 6,600 acres of land.
A distinct difference exists between the land uses of incorporated and unincorporated Jackson County. Around Altus AFB, land areas to the north, east, and south are unincorporated and remain predominately open agricultural, devoted to the production of cotton, wheat and cattle. To the west, the city of Altus contains the diverse land uses expected to be found in a city its size. The city is a mix of residential units interspersed with small commercial centers.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Establish a Mobility Air Forces Logistics Support Center at Scott Air Force Base by realigning Regional Supply Squadron positions from Hurlburt Field and Sembach (non-BRAC programmatic) and LRS positions from Little Rock Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base. Combined with a recommendation to create a Combat Air Forces LRS, this recommendation would be a transformational opportunity consistent with eLog21 initiatives that would standardize Air Force materiel management command and control. This recommendation would realign RSS manpower (from three MAJCOM locations) and base-level LRS manpower (from three installations) into two LSCs in support of Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. Consolidation would provide a seamless transition from peace to war for 3,012 aircraft and weapons systems associated with CAF/MAF forces and the Airmen that use them. It would also provide a single point of contact to the warfighter, whether at home station or deployed. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 26 jobs (16 direct jobs and 10 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Altus, OK, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (0.2 percent).
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation is a transformational opportunity consistent with eLog21 initiatives that will standardize Air Force materiel management command and control. This recommendation realigns RSS manpower (from three MAJCOM locations) and base-level LRS manpower (from three installations) into two LSCs in support of Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. Consolidation will provide a seamless transition from peace to war for 3,012 aircraft and weapons systems associated with CAF/MAF forces and the airmen who use them. It also provides a single point of contact to the warfighter, whether at home station or deployed. This recommendation will also result in the disestablishment of the Air Force Special Operations Command Regional Supply Squadron, Pacific Air Forces Regional Supply Squadron, and the United States Air Forces in Europe Regional Supply Squadron.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found operational efficiencies gained by this recommendation. The Commission noted a risk to material management support to the Air Force during the transition period, but the Commission also recognized that the Air Force has, in-place, a detailed implementation plans to mitigate this risk.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.
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